If you’re like me and you’re crafty with your hair coloring techniques, then diluting your semi-permanent hair dye has probably crossed your mind a couple of times in the past.
Although it sounds a little taboo – especially for hair color purists and professional stylists – there’s a lot you can get out of it.
There are plenty of reasons to want to do it, whether it’s to get the perfect pastel shade in your locks or just extend the yield of your dye.
But you can’t just dilute your dye in anything. There are only a handful of products you can use to dilute your semi-permanent dye and still get gorgeous colored hair after.
In this post, I’ll give you the 411 on why you might want to dilute your favorite hair color, what effects it will have on your locks, and how to dilute semi-permanent hair dye.
Is It Okay To Dilute Semi-Permanent Hair Dye?
Yes, technically, it’s okay to dilute your hair dye.
Generally, the practice of diluting dye is done to change how intense and opaque the true color of the dye is.
So if you want blue locks but don’t want a neon or electric blue, diluting your dye to get a soft blue shade is a good idea.
Semi-permanent dye is less scary to use than permanent color, since it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia.
It’s easy to work with, so it makes sense that many people might feel comfortable experimenting with it and mixing it with different hair products to dilute it.
But it’s important to remember that most dyes aren’t designed to be diluted.
This is especially true for two-part dyes, where you mix color and developer.
It’s also not recommended for box dyes, which are formulated to be used exactly as they are.
The type of semi-permanent hair dye that is best for dilution is pure dye – no developer, and no kit either.
A great example of this is the Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color in Virgin Pink.
This cruelty-free and vegan hair color is a direct dye that comes in a bright, hot pink color.
But if you want something that isn’t so flashy and is lighter and more romantic, you can dilute it to create a soft pastel pink.
Why Would One Want To Dilute Their Hair Dye?
If you’ve never diluted your semi-permanent hair dye before, the very idea of it may seem a bit weird.
But there are many sensible reasons why hair color lovers ought to dilute their hair dye in other products, whether it’s for aesthetics or to be more frugal.
The most common reason why someone would dilute their semi-permanent hair dye is that they want to flaunt a pastel shade in their hair.
Taking a deep-colored dye and diluting it in a thick and creamy product helps lighten the color, making it look soft and light without looking dull.
So if you’ve been meaning to buy that pastel color dye for some time now but suddenly can’t find stocks of it at your favorite hair store, diluting a deeper version of that color might be your best shot.
DIY Color-Depositing Shampoo
You can also dilute your semi-permanent hair dye in an attempt to make your own color-depositing shampoo.
This means you won’t have to spend extra money on purple or blue shampoos anymore just to get rid of brassiness.
“Soften The Blow”
Those who are concerned with their hair’s overall safety might also want to try diluting dye before applying it to their locks.
Hair color has a reputation for being damaging to healthy hair.
But diluting it with another product might soften the blow of the post-color damage.
Then we come to the practical, frugal reasons.
Diluting your semi-permanent hair dye is a great way to extend the yield of your dye.
Instead of buying multiple dyes in different colors, you can dilute the same dye in different ways to get different hues of the same shade.
Think about it like this. If you have dark red hair dye, you can dilute it to create an orangey salmon color.
And if you want something lighter, you can dilute it even more to achieve something like a pastel peach.
Why buy a brand new bottle of dye when you can use a dime-sized amount of it and dilute it to get a new, exciting color?
How To Dilute Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty!
Here are three ways to dilute your semi-permanent hair dye:
Method #1: Mix It With Conditioner
Diluting your dye with a conditioner is a great way to achieve a lighter, softer color than your dye’s true color.
If you love pastel-colored tresses, this method is definitely for you.
I also highly recommend it to those with dehydrated hair that needs extra nourishment as they color their locks.
All you need for this method are your dye and a creamy, white conditioner.
Try to find one that is highly moisturizing but also affordable.
You’re going to be using a lot of the conditioner, so it might be best not to bring out your luxury products.
One that I love using for this method is the Dove Nourishing Secrets Repairing Conditioner.
It’s infused with coconut oil and turmeric extracts to deeply moisturize the hair, leaving it soft and smooth.
It’s white too, which is perfect for diluting dye.
- Squeeze about a cup of conditioner into a mixing bowl.
- Add your semi-permanent dye into the bowl a little bit at a time. Each time you add dye, mix it in thoroughly with the conditioner to see what color it makes. Less dye means a lighter, more pastel color, while adding more dye will give you a brighter, more solid color. When you have the perfect color, you’re ready to move on.
- Apply the mixture to your hair in sections. You can use an applicator brush to put the mixture in your hair, and then use your fingers or a comb to brush it through every strand.
- When all of your hair is saturated with the dye and conditioner combo, massage the conditioner into your hair with your hands.
- Let the conditioner sit in your hair for about 30-45 minutes. It should process for a bit longer than instructed in your dye’s packaging.
- Rinse out the conditioner with cold water and style as desired.
Method #2: Dilute In Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a very popular ingredient in many hair dyes out there, specifically those that are permanent.
This chemical is very powerful and helps bleach your hair.
It removes the natural pigment found in your hair stands and replaces it with a new color from the dye’s pigments.
So as you have probably deduced already, hydrogen peroxide works to make color molecules bond better with your hair as you dye it.
It can also boost the vibrancy and vividness of your desired shade.
That makes it a very smart product to dilute hair dye in if you want to liven up your color.
But be warned – hydrogen peroxide can be extremely strong, so make sure you take all the precautionary measures to ensure your safety.
Wear latex gloves so your skin doesn’t touch the peroxide.
And in the days before you color your hair, do a deep conditioning treatment to strengthen it.
Here’s how you do it:
- Protect your floors from stains by covering them with newspaper or plastic bags. Hydrogen peroxide is way thinner than conditioner, so it might not have that creamy hold when applying it to the hair.
- In a mixing bowl, combine one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts semi-permanent hair dye. Use a brush applicator to stir the ingredients well. If they aren’t properly combined, you might end up with patchy color, or spots in your mane that are drier than others.
- With the same applicator brush, apply the mixture straight into your locks. It’s easier to do this in sections, especially if you have thick hair. Just ensure that every lock of hair is saturated with the dye.
- Wait 30 minutes to allow the dye and peroxide to process on your hair.
- Jump in the shower and rinse all the dye out. Since your hair will be clarified by the peroxide, there’s no need to use shampoo. After rinsing, go straight to conditioner. Rinse again and you’re done!
Method #3: Combine It With Shampoo To Create A Toning Shampoo
If you need toning shampoo, this method will be perfect for you.
Toning shampoos like purple, blue, or green shampoo are meant to neutralize brassiness in colored hair.
By diluting hair dye in sulfate-free shampoo, you can make your very own from scratch.
- Pour about a cup of your sulfate-free shampoo into a clear, empty squeeze bottle. Make sure the shampoo you’re using is white in color.
- Add a third of a cup of semi-permanent dye in the color of your choice. Purple is best for blondes, while blue pigments work great for brunettes.
- Shake the bottle until the shampoo and dye are well-combined. Et voila! Your very own toning shampoo. Now you can kiss brassiness goodbye with one wash.
Can You Dilute Hair Dye With Water?
When you’re new to diluting your semi-permanent dye, mixing your dye with water might be one of the ideas that pop up in your head first.
But the reality is that it’s most likely a bad idea to do so.
Water can alter the formula of your semi-permanent dye, especially if it contains peroxide.
Because of this, your hair color might come out uneven, dull, and patchy.
Because water isn’t creamy, it also won’t make your dye more pastel-like in shade.
It only makes the color less vivid, but doesn’t change its hue or tone the way conditioner might.
Plus, many semi-permanent dyes instruct people to apply the dye on hair that is completely dry.
That will tell you that water will not mix well with the formula, and is a sign to steer clear of water when thinking of how to dilute the dye.
What About Coconut Or Olive Oil?
Many semi-permanent hair dyes are formulated with tons of conditioning ingredients, like argan oil or keratin.
This is what makes semi-permanent dye a fan-favorite among those who want to give their locks a lot of TLC while coloring it.
Because of that, it’s understandable that one would think that diluting hair dye in their favorite oil, like coconut oil, shea butter, or olive oil, might work.
But believe me when I say it’s not, and that it will only make your hair coloring session messier and less effective.
If you dilute your dye in oil and apply it directly into your hair, it might make your locks super greasy before the dye’s pigments even get the chance to lay on your cuticles.
Extreme oiliness will make it almost impossible for the semi-permanent dye to stick properly on hair, so it’s a no-no.
Avoid Moisturizing With Oils
You should also avoid moisturizing your hair with oils before dyeing your hair.
Having a thick coating of coconut oil will affect how the product is absorbed into your hair, leading to uneven coloring.
If you do that, you’re wasting both your hair dye and oil.
If you’re worried about drying out your hair when you color it, just condition your hair with a nourishing hair mask after you color it.
No need to dilute your dye with heaps of oil that will only ruin your coloring job.
But if you can’t help the temptation of putting in some of your fave oil into your dye, make sure it’s pure oil with no silicones, and that you’re using just two or so drops to make your dye a little more moisturizing.
At first, diluting your semi-permanent hair dye with other products might sound like you’re merely playing chemist.
But it actually has tremendous benefits not just for the appearance of your hair post-coloring, but for your wallet too – that is, if you use the right products to dilute your dye with.
By diluting your semi-permanent hair dye, you extend its yield while customizing your hair color to be the exact tone and shade you envisioned.
It also allows your dye to give you some functional versatility since you can even use it to create toning shampoo to help maintain your new hair color.
Just keep in mind the important watch-outs I’ve pointed out in this article – like diluting your dye in oil and water – and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect subdued tone or pastel hair shade.
So, if you’ve been wondering how to dilute semi-permanent hair dye, there you have!